Sunday, July 18, 2010

Evangeline enjoys solar cooked rice pudding!! YUM!!

Here is Evangeline, my latest hand made Teddy Bear, enjoying her very first bowl of Rice Pudding made with solar Maine!! Evangeline likes her Rice Pud the British way - cold with a nice dollop of Cheery, or even Cherry Preserves! Any flavour of jam will do but we only had Cherry today so that's what we had!!
The first most important part of today's recipe is a nice clear sky, very little breeze and preferably high temps to increase the cooking speed.
My very own solar cooker sitting on a chair on the deck at the front of the house. The solar cooker needs to be facing directly towards the sun and in our hemisphere that means turning a little every now again to keep up with the direction.
Here is the rice after having been in the cooker for about 1 hour...for this recipe it doesn't have to be completely cooked at this point.
The finished pud...doesn't this look just like Rice Pudding...even down to the crackly skin, a part I loathed as a child but now enjoy!!!! And look how good it looks below...with a drizzling of local is SO GOOD, super creamy I think because it cooked so slowly for so long.....
THE simple
1 cup white rice...I used basmati long grain because of it's fragrant nature but I think any white rice will do...but I may be wrong
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten til gruddy lumpy bits please!!
1 tablespoon vanilla essence/extract
A goodly grating of fresh nutmeg
1. Place rice in a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 20 minutes (I put mine in the solar oven with lots of water to cover and it took about 1 hour to get to the point you see above in the 4th pic down...fluffy but not completely cooked.
2. Stir the 1/2 & 1/2, sugar, nutmeg and vanilla into the rice and cook over very low heat on the stove top for about another 20-25 minutes, until thick and the rice is very tender.....I left mine in the solar cooker for about another 1 1/2 hours.
3. Add a little of the warm rice to the eggs to help temper them and not scramble them when you add them to the body of the cooked rice.....add a little more and a little more and then stir the egg mixture quickly back into the main rice mix...again being careful not to let the eggs scramble. Place this egg, rice mix into an oven proof bowl and set into a 350F oven for another 30 minutes or so. I did the egg mixing part and then left the solar cooker out for about another 1 hour, the solar oven is certainly not an exact science and times will vary with temperature and wind so you just have to keep checking and eyeballing when you think the recipe is ready at the different stages. Thus the reason why I choose to do Rice Pudding instead of a souffle....but I bet someone somewhere has tried something difficult...let me know if you see something of that nature and I'll do a link to it here on my blog!!!!
4. Leave to cool and then bob in the fridge for a few hours 'til nice and chilly.
This is the best rice pudding I ever made and I didn't use one calorie of energy!! YEA!!!...oh except the fridge part...sorry!!
Happy Cooking with the sun!!

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jolly Hollyhocks and Delphiniums!

Am I a lucky girl...from whenst did these pink hollyhocks come??, for indeed I did not plant them but OH! how happy I am they are here. Aren't they the most luscious pink and up close they almost look like they are fashioned from some delightful sugar paste...they are delicately edged in scallops and are almost transparent...I love them and thank the little bird or chipmunk who dropped their seeds.
and below...delphiniums...who knew I liked delphiniums?...certainly not me , just the name put me off as some dry and boring plant one finds in a Victorian drawing room...I think I was thinking of Aspidistras perhaps??? and the good old Gracie Fields song from when I was little, two hundred and fifty years ago, "The Biggest Aspidistra in the World" a riveting ditty that definitely wrote in stone my feelings about said plant!!
LUCKILY I discovered delphiniums a couple of years ago and boy are they beautiful...all of mine are in shades of BLUE and lilac, I'll have a picture of the really blue one next week when they have filled out, they take a nice long time to fill out their flowers and then their flowers stay a long time too....good bang for your floral buck!!
...and here's Mr. Bee doing his job diligently...he's the Bees Knees isn't he?? Ha ha!!
Ha ha indeed, James was just 'droning' on to me about the fact that all bees out gallivanting collecting honey are in fact girls...thanks James!!! Sorry BEE!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cornish Strawberry Puffs or Toffee Strawberry Half Moons

Wallowing luxuriously in a pool of delicious organic cream are simple Sweet Cornish Pasties. Cornish Pasties are usually savoury with a meat and potato filling but here they have been transformed into a little bite of heaven filled with fresh strawberries and baked in a caramelly sauce that coats the pasty with crunchy deliciouness only found in your dreams!!!
I have been eyeballing this recipe for many a year. It was published aeons ago in an issue of Australian Vogue Food...a wonderful magazine that I can't find in Maine hoo!!

Pre-heat your oven to 450F...nice and toasty
2oz/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup/4oz of unbleached white flour
1 egg beaten
a little milk
Fresh Strawberries
2 cups/16 fl oz water
1 cup sugar
1 oz/1 tbsp butter
1. Rub the butter into the flour.
2. Add the beaten egg.
3. Add a little milk, a very little milk in my case, to help form a soft dough.
4. Roll out the dough, it will be sticky so have a lot of extra flour on hand to help unstick, to about 7" circles as above.
5. Place a few slices, about 7, of strawberries as above on one half of the circle...put a dabbling of milk around that semi circle of the dough and fold over the strawberries and gently press to stick
8. For the syrup...boil water, sugar and butter together for about 7 minutes until it begins to thicken.
9. Pour the syrup into cast iron pan or other metal receptacle, and put into your 450F oven until it is bubbling happily.
10. Remove carefully from the oven...boiling syrup is a horror to get on your skin!!!...gently place your three pasties into their caramel bath and return to the oven.
11. In 10 minutes baste the pasties with caramel.
12. In another 10 minutes baste again...and then another 10 minutes you should be done, the caramel should have greatly reduced and be bubbling like Billy-o.

The first batch I did the caramel got to the hard crack stage and was really good, the second batch I took them out too early and they were at the chewy stage but I think that may also have had a lot to do with the extremely humid weather we were having it is a bit finicky knowing when to remove them just don't let the caramel long as it is not burnt the pasties will be GREAT!!!

You can eat them hot bathing in a pool of heavy/double cream or wait 'til they are cool and crunchy...they are literally toffee covered pasties with a little delight of strawberries in their centre!!! YUMMMMM!!! I have not seen a recipe like this before where you bake in basically simple syrup but I have to tell you I really like it.
Happy Baking!!!